Academics share stories of city's past at Heritage Open Days 2023

21 Aug 2023
window with stature, cathedral walk way, tree blossom with cathedral

Famous, infamous and almost-forgotten figures from history feature as the subjects of walks, talks and workshops by academics from the University of Winchester as part of September’s Heritage Open Days.

University lecturers will also be explaining some bird-brained theories on bird migration, how to make a roman mosaic, and the ancient roots of Cockney English.

Professor of Early Medieval History Ryan Lavelle gives a short talk entitled "Playing Happy Families? Anglo-Saxon kings and queens in the Liber Vitae of Hyde Abbey".

The Liber Vitae ­ ("Book of Life") was a medieval directory of benefactors whose lives were remembered by the community of monks at Winchester. In addition to a famous portrait of King Cnut and Queen Emma  the book also contains intriguing glimpses into English rulership in the years before the Norman Conquest.

Ryan’s presentation is at 2.45pm on 9 September in the Inner Close at Winchester Cathedral where Hyde900 will also be displaying finds from the recent Hyde Abbey Community Digs.

“Going Cuckoo: a history of bird migration and the creative explanations that science wants to forget”, is the title of a talk by Dr Eric Lacey, Lecturer in English Language. Eric explores some of the weird theories and folklore used in the past to explain bird migration. The event takes place in the St Alphege Building at the University on 13 September at 6pm.

Dr Carolin Esser-Miles, Senior Lecturer in English Linguistics, is running an introductory workshop on mosaic making at Winchester City Museum on 10 and 17 September from midday to 2.45pm. Before each workshop Carolin explains how Roman mosaics were made and conducts a tour of the museum’s mosaics.

Dr Sue Anderson-Faithful’s Women’s History Walk on September 14 and 15 focuses on a number of significant female philanthropists and activists associated with Winchester in the late 19th century when it was hot spot for ‘caring power’.

Stories of Mary Sumner of the Mothers’ Union, reformer Josephine Butler, novelist Charlotte Yonge, and Laura Ridding and Ellen Joyce of the Girls’ Friendly Society are associated with places encountered on the way.

Sue’s walks start at the Buttercross at 1pm on both days.

Dr Gary Farnell, Senior Lecturer in English and Creative Writing, conducts two literary tours of Winchester, the first on 15 September and the second the following day.

The 90-minute tour starts at 4pm on both days from the main entrance of the Cathedral and leads through the water meadows to St Cross Hospital and back. Gary’s route follows in the footsteps of writers associated with the city including Jane Austen, John Keats, Anthony Trollope, Thomas Hardy and Claire Fuller.

Emeritus Professor of English Christopher Mulvey will show how Cockney English owes its origins to the Kings and Queens of the Kingdom of Essex. The story goes back 1600 years and involves accents, class, snobbery, and rhyming slang.

His presentation, organised in conjunction with the English Project, is at the Arc in Jewry Street at 6pm on 15 September.

Dr Cindy Wood explores the secrets of Medieval Winchester in her tour on Saturday, 16 September. Cindy will be looking at the characters who lived in various properties and churches in the city which are now lost and pointing out some hidden gems that you may have overlooked.

There are two chances to take Cindy’s tour - it departs Winchester Westgate at 10.30am and 2pm.

Visiting history lecturer Dr Johanna Strong looks at the treatment England’s first Queen regnant Mary I has received from authors down the ages and askes whether she deserves her bad reputation and nickname of Bloody Mary.

Johanna’ talk, “Remembering Mary I: Creating a Queen’s Legacy” is at the Wykeham Suite at the Mercure Hotel in Paternoster Row from 2pm on 16 September.

“Queens in Winchester” is a 90-minute creative workshop for children aged 8-12 run by Reader in Renaissance History, Dr Ellie Woodacre. In keeping with this year’s theme of ‘Creativity Unwrapped’, the children will not only learn about the lives of these royal women, but will have a chance to turn those stories into artistic creations.

Places must be booked for this event which takes place in The Grand Jury Room at The Castle from 1.30pm to 3pm on 16 September.

Nicky Gottleib, director of  Winchester Heritage Open Days, said: “We're delighted to have the University's support again this year. We've got some fantastic student volunteers helping us year-round and during the festival itself and we just couldn't do this without them really.

“But it's a big thank you to all the academic staff who give up their time to put on some brilliant talks, tours and workshops for us. They're always very popular and some get booked up as soon as our box office opens!”

Places for many of these events are limited so must booked in advance at Winchester Heritage Open Days.

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